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Policy

Fast Track: Patent Applicants Could Request Expedited Reviews For An Additional Fee

by Glenn Hess
June 14, 2010 | APPEARED IN VOLUME 88, ISSUE 24

The U.S. Patent & Trademark Office is proposing a new initiative aimed at improving patent applicants’ control over how quickly their applications are examined.

“We recognize that the traditional one-size-fits-all examination timing may not work for all applicants,” PTO Director David Kappos said in a conference call with reporters on June 3.

Under the first tier of a three-track system, applicants could choose to pay a yet-to-be determined additional amount on top of the basic filing fee of $1,090 and request a prioritized examination. PTO would approve or reject the application within one year.

The second track is the agency’s traditional examination timeline. On average, it now takes PTO nearly 35 months to complete examination of a patent.

A third track would allow an application to be put on hold for up to 30 months before it is examined. “This is simply about letting applicants tell us what’s most important to them so we can get to that first,” Kappos remarked.

Before the scheme could take effect, Congress would need to set fees for the different options or pass legislation providing PTO with fee-setting authority.

The Biotechnology Industry Organization, a lobbying group, generally “supports additional patent prosecution flexibilities that would help applicants better coordinate their application efforts with their product development activities,” says Hans Sauer, the group’s deputy general counsel for intellectual property.

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